I read an article recently about the explosion of success for Spanx (click here for Spanx article on Forbes). If you’re not familiar with what Spanx are, you must not have a girlfriend, wife, significant other that you discuss women’s underwear with on a daily basis like Jason is so lucky to have….right?
Or you didn’t notice that that prior to Spanx, panty lines were as ubiquitous as, well, panties. But now! Women have the ability to fake the flatness. Stuff ourselves into these contraptions to perpetuate the illusion that we do all really look like Victoria Secret models underneath. Models that wear beautifully beige underwear…
But the article was not about what Spanx were, but how they became so successful. The twist here is that they become a billion-dollar business…with no advertising. No full-blown, strategic media buy with sub target markets or social media strategies. This is a case where word of mouth worked better.
“The power of women discovering the brand from other women was actually a better strategy.” — said owner and newly minted billionaire Sara Blakely.
The company focused on a quality product, stellar packaging and authentic spokespeople to grow. And pinpointed guerilla-style marketing strategies that targeted the people they wanted to be customer, i.e., “targeting famous women who’d be open to talking about body image.” Also, having a dynamic CEO that is known as the “DNA of the brand” helps as well. And Oprah had a little to do with it.
This is a case that shows the power of a quality product. And tapping into a market that wasn’t previously being served, or talked to correctly. Spanx found that women want to talk to other women about what they are doing, buying, saving, etc. And Spanx capitalized on that, making talk of shapewear hip and cool. They didn’t have to buy the conversation through paid media, they created it.